Saturday

19th Jan 2019

Poland fears mass exodus of Ukraine refugees

  • The 43-year old Duda (r) beat former president Bronislaw Komorowski (l) in May elections (Photo: senat.rp)

The EU should factor in a potential mass-exodus of Ukrainians to Poland in its migration policy, Polish president Andrzej Duda has said.

Speaking to German tabloid Bild, on the eve of his first state visit to Berlin on Friday (28 August), he noted that: “Poland, as an EU member, wants to show solidarity, but in terms of refugees, we have a special problem because of the conflict in Ukraine”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“When the conflict escalates again, a lot more people will come to us. From the signals we’re already getting, several hundred thousand Ukrainians want to escape to us. Other European countries should take this into account when we talk about readiness to offer help”.

With Germany expecting 800,000 asylum applications this year, by far the highest number of any EU state, Duda added: “We understand this problem's very important to German people”.

He said Polish society is ready to welcome refugees, because Poles have a history of receiving help from abroad.

“There were times when many Poles were forced to leave their country and became refugees. And we haven’t forgotten the rescue packages the Germans sent us in the 1980s”.

He also said that, while the Polish economy is growing, unemployment remains high and too many Poles are leaving the country to work in other EU states.

“It’s an important task of Polish politics to create the conditions that they return home”, he added.

Poland, last year, received 2,318 asylum applications from Ukraine, compared to 46 in 2013. It also issued 830,553 short-term visas for Ukrainian border traders and migrant workers, compared to 720,125 the year before.

The war in Ukraine has so far created 600,000 refugees, the UN says, many of whom have fled to Russia.

Poland has also volunteered to take in 1,100 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy over the next two years under an EU scheme, as well as 900 UN-registered refugees.

But the European Commission had asked it to take in 3,621 people in total.

Duda noted that, despite the so-called Minsk ceasefire accord on Ukraine, “people are dying every day. The agreed ceasefire is not being complied with”.

He praised German chancellor Angela Merkel for what he called her “very firm attitude toward Russia. I wish all of Europe would support this determination”.

But he believes the crisis won’t end quickly and said the EU should maintain economic sanctions on Russia until the full status quo ante, including the return of Crimea to Ukraine, is restored.

He also said Nato should have a “stronger presence” in Poland, referring to Polish appeals for Nato to create permanent new bases on its territory.

He noted that Poland supports Ukraine’s EU and Nato entry down the line. But he said “this isn’t on the agenda at the moment. First, we need a lasting peace”.

With Duda hailing from the right-wing Law and Justice opposition party in Poland, which, in its last time in power, had prickly relations with Germany, the new president, elected in May, tried to dispel concerns on bilateral relations.

He said the past feud with Berlin was “hyped” by media.

“Relations between Warsaw and Berlin were always significantly better than their reputation", he noted.

“The Germans are our largest and most important neighbours, economically and politically. Our relationship is very good, and I would like to contribute to it”.

Juncker promises Ukraine visa-free travel

Commission president Juncker has said he’ll back EU visa-free travel for Ukrainians by the end of the year, despite the political climate on migration.

EU and US condemn Kiev violence

The EU and US have condemned violence in Kiev, which left one policeman dead and hospitalised more than 140 people.

Opinion

Visegrad members must stick together

Informal coalitions are becoming more important in EU politics, the Czech EU affairs minister says, as V4 leaders meet in Prague on immigration.

Eight EU states take migrants stranded on NGO boats

France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania have agreed to relocate the 49 migrants stuck on two NGO boats moored, for almost three weeks, off Malta's coast.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us